Can Steak Be Too Rare?
Everyone knows that when preparing chicken for safe consumption, it should always be fully cooked all the way through, but when it comes to steak, we all have different preferences in terms of rarity. Some prefer their steak cooked until it’s brown all the way through, while others will turn their nose up unless the meat still runs red.
What makes rare steak safe to eat, but not rare chicken? Can steak ever be too rare? In today’s post we’re examining the rules of rareness for your favorite cuts of steak. Read on to learn more, and if you’re feeling hungry by the end, come and have dinner at our historic steak and seafood restaurant in Lake Charles. Our chefs understand the ins and outs of preparing the very best steak for a wide range of tastes, so check out our menu and contact us to make your reservation tonight.
Why Is Raw Meat Dangerous?
We’re Not Designed to Process It
Have you ever wondered why other carnivores and omnivores in the animal kingdom can eat raw meat on a regular basis, while humans can’t at all? Well, first of all, we actually can eat more raw meat than we realize — at least, if it’s ultra-fresh.
Lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) are susceptible to many of the same foodborne illnesses that we are, but they come across harmful bacteria far less often since they usually eat meat fresh from a kill. Most humans, on the other hand, only come by their meat after it’s been through a lengthy processing and storing process during which pathogens may be introduced.
Still, fresh or not, raw meat will still affect humans much more harshly than the rest of the animal kingdom, since our gut structures are not designed to handle it. Why is this, though? Why are other animals better at eating raw meat? Should we be jealous of this ability?
As it turns out, our inability to eat raw meat is probably an asset as a species. One of the prevailing theories is that even though cooked meat retains less energy and nutrition than raw meat, it also enhances our digestive efficiency. Essentially, the cooking process lets us get the digestive process started before we ever eat the food — it breaks down tough protein strands, kills parasites and pathogens, and frees up our internal energy to be used by our big human brains.
The downside, of course, is that we have to be more careful with how we eat meat.
Raw Meat May Contain Pathogens
Before it arrives in our fridges and freezers, most of our meat has been through quite the storing and processing journey. This can introduce pathogens like salmonella and e. coli, which can cause nasty foodborne illnesses. Fortunately, cooking to a certain temperature will kill these bacteria, sterilizing the meat and making it safe for consumption.
The risk of contamination depends primarily on the type of meat and how it was sourced. For example, red meats are usually only susceptible to pathogens on the surface of the cut, while chicken can be contaminated all the way through the muscle. This is why you should never eat raw chicken, but a juicy rare steak is perfectly fine.
Rare Ground Beef is Usually Not Safe
Because the process of grinding beef can introduce harmful bacteria from the meat’s surface throughout the meat, burgers should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, or to medium doneness.
Raw Steaks are Sometimes Safe
Sometimes, even totally raw steak (i.e., meat that has not been seared fully) is safe to eat, when it is responsibly sourced and prepared. Delicacies like steak tartare and beef carpaccio are well-loved around the world. However, there is always a risk when consuming 100% raw meat, especially for people who are at a higher risk of food poisoning including pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Rare Steaks are Generally Safe
If you like your meat practically still mooing, you’ll be pleased to learn that rare steaks are almost always perfectly safe. Any surface pathogens will be killed during the searing process, and steakhouse chefs are well-educated about how to safely prepare different cuts of meat.
When in doubt, ask your waiter for the chef’s recommendation on steak doneness. We bet that most will tell you the best, most tender, most flavorful steaks are cooked in the medium-rare range!
Try Our Steaks at Pat’s of Henderson!
Suddenly in the mood for steak? The chefs at our steak restaurant can safely prepare a delicious, juicy slab to your preferred level of doneness! We’ve been serving up the best steaks, seafood, and Cajun cuisine in the Lake Charles area for decades, and we pride ourselves on preparing safe, mouthwatering dishes for every taste.